"I’m most proud of my ability to really work for something that I want. Going to school in New York was always a dream of mine, but I never thought it would actually come true."
Hey, Lauren Ashbrook! We couldn't be more proud of you too.
Flashback to Lauren's senior year of high school -- she's battling depression and an eating disorder. Her weight is dropping fast. She is stressed and overwhelmed with college applications. And to make matters worse, she's let go from her school's musical.
Today? A much different Lauren has emerged.
She has gotten help for depression and her eating disorder. She moved to the city of her dreams, New York, where she attends college. She inspires others through writing in her blog, The Manhattan Dream." And for fun? She loves hanging out with friends, discovering little coffee shops and seeing Broadway shows.
New York, Lauren has arrived ;-)
Every Ella: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Lauren Ashbrook: I’m 18 years old. I’m from Buffalo, NY where I lived with my mom, brother, and sister. I moved to North Carolina for high school and now I’m studying Business at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City.
You have struggled with depression throughout your life. Can you tell us when you were diagnosed?
I didn’t start going to therapy until my Junior year of high school so that’s when I was technically “diagnosed." However, it really started hitting me around age 13-14.
You have also struggled with eating disorders. Has it solely been anorexia?
Yes. I’ve never been one to purge or binge. It was mostly just me restricting my diet.
Do you believe that depression caused and/or played a part in your eating disorder?
I don’t believe one caused the other, but I do know that they were not fun to experience at the same time. The depression definitely made the eating disorder harder to cope with, however.
What was your lowest low?
February of my senior year of high school, I was dropping weight fast, feeling worse and worse every day, there was college application stress, and on top of it all, I was kicked out of my school’s musical. Everything was sort of crashing down at once and it was a lot to take in.
You have been recovering from the eating disorder and said you feel better now than ever. What made you realize you had to make this change?
I always had up and downs with it throughout the years. I noticed every time I would slip again, it would be worse than the last. As soon as I started slipping again, I knew if I kept it up, I’d have to go live in North Carolina and leave my school in New York. I had worked so hard to come to school here, so I wasn’t going to allow it to be taken from me so fast. I knew if I wanted to pursue my dreams, I’d have to turn it around.
What was or still is the biggest challenge in your recovery?
Eating in public. To this day it makes me very uncomfortable. Not at a restaurant or at home or anything, but in times where no one else is eating or if it’s a small amount of people surrounding me. In my 3-hour writing class we were given a break to go get lunch. We all sat in a circle and there were about 12 of us in the class. Everyone had brought food back to the class, but I couldn’t do it. It was a very vulnerable situation for me to be in.
Has recovery also helped with your depression?
Yes definitely! When I eat more, I feel better! It’s a very simple fix.
You write a blog called “The Manhattan Dream.” What kind of things do you write about and has blogging been helpful in your overall wellbeing?
I usually just write about whatever “life lesson” comes along to me that day/week/etc. Whenever I’m inspired to share a story or just update on my life, I’ll write about it. I don’t know if it has necessarily affected my well-being, but it has definitely been a wonderful outlet for me to relieve stress and express myself.
What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of my ability to really work for something that I want. Going to school in New York was always a dream of mine, but I never thought it would actually come true. The fact that I’m here and living the life I’ve always imagined is still unreal to me and makes me feel a sense of pride that I was actually able to pursue it.
What do you like to do for fun?
I like to hang out with my friends in the city a lot, just discovering new coffee shops and fun places. Broadway shows are forever my weakness.
What are your dreams for the future?
My goal right now is to just graduate and get a stable job to pay off student loans, but I hope to one day work in the business side of the theatre industry in New York. At some point I’d love to take time off and travel Europe as well as write a book.
What advice would you give girls struggling with depression or eating disorders?
Get help! It’s always worth it and it WILL help you in the long run. You also have to be your own advocate. No one can want it more than you. You have to take charge of your own life and realize that you are worth getting better. And it DOES get better. It may take a while, but just know that there is light in your future.
Name one woman who inspires you.
Stacy London who was the co-host of What Not To Wear will always be my biggest inspiration. She’s gone through very similar struggles as I have, yet she’s a very successful woman. She’s inspired many women through her book and several TV shows, making them realize their full potential and feel better about themselves.
If you could meet one female celebrity, who would it be? and why?
I’ve always loved Amy Adams. She has this classy glow and kindness about her that I’ve always admired. She reminds me of the more older Hollywood actresses which I really love. I would just love to sit down with her over coffee and have a chat.